‘A place of suffering:’ Spanish Supreme Court upholds forced community nudism appeal

A group of residents of a vacation complex in Almería filed a lawsuit after the owners’ committee hired private security to prevent the non-naked from accessing the pool and gardens

Nudists at the Picornell pools in Barcelona.
Nudists at the Picornell pools in Barcelona.Joan Guerrero

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that neighborhood by-laws do not allow for the imposition of nudism in order to permit access to the communal areas of a residential complex, such as its swimming pool and gardens. The appeal was filed by a group of residents who complained that the rule prevented them from using these areas, which were reserved only for the naked. The leaders of the community committee even went so far as to enforce the regulation by means of security guards, who were employed to verify the nudity of residents using the pool and gardens.

The building at the center of the lawsuit consists of a block of holiday apartments in Vera, Almería, in which the owners’ committee had declared the practice of nudism as a requisite for accessing communal areas of the complex. The case was first handled by a magistrate’s court in Jaén before being passed to the Provincial Court of Almería, which threw out the appeal after considering it proven that the by-laws requiring nudism was unanimously approved.

However, the civil chamber of the Supreme Court ruled there was a glaring error in the assessment of the evidence by the Provincial Court: a simple reading of the minutes of the community meeting in question shows that the statutes were not approved by all residents and that the previous rulings did not take this into account. In its ruling, the higher court noted the “imposition of nudism violates the right to equality, involves discrimination against the plaintiffs because of their ideas and thoughts, and infringes on their freedom of movement and their right to privacy.”

As a result, the appeal was upheld based on the criterion that the plaintiffs cannot be arbitrarily prevented - by acts of force and the hiring of private security services - from accessing communal facilities. The court stressed that nudism is “a perfectly respectable and legitimate personal choice, but whose practice cannot be required without any basis.” In its ruling, the court said the plaintiffs’ fundamental rights had been violated and awarded moral damages of €1,000 to each of them.

The judgment noted there had been several conflictive episodes within the community complex and stated the statutes were used by the defendants “to impose, in a stubborn and sometimes violent manner, the practice of nudism on all residents. In other words, the defendants intended, in an absolutely unheard-of manner, to force the owners who want to use the communal areas under their co-ownership to undress.”

The ruling went on to state “the climate created is therefore unbearable” for the plaintiffs “and many other residents, who are harassed, coerced and discriminated against, for no other reason than that they do not practice nudism.” In summary, the court said the presence of the plaintiffs “in their vacation residence has gone from being a place of rest to a place of suffering.”

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